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Snooth User: Philip James

Putting Methionine in its place

Posted by Philip James, Apr 2, 2009.

The things us folk in the wine industry are forced to endure...

Earlier this week I was invited to a dinner organized by Deussen , who represent the Vins d'Alsace . For those that don't know my tastes yet, I'm a big fan of Alsatian wines, and considering my Germanic roots, the fact that the whole dinner was built around asparagus pairings was pretty exciting.

Asparagus is a real tricky one to pair - primarily due to the sulfurous amino acid Methionine that can make a wine taste vegetal - consequently I've seen many restaurants actually tell diner's to simply drink water until that course is over.

We were not so easily deterred.

Alsatian wines are a good match for asparagus - particularly the wines with a little residual sugar. Their oily, fruity aromas complement the vegetal nature of the asparagus, the sugar hides any bitterness and the acidity cuts through the rich sauces that asparagus is often served with.

The full menu, with links to the reviews is here:

Dirler-Cade Crémant D'Alsace Pinot Blanc 2005

> Toro of New Zealand, wild Hiramassa, white asparagus, and grapefruit
Mann, Albert Pinot Blanc Auxerrois, 2007

> Lobster medallion, sweet breads and green asparagus.
Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvee Ste. Catherine 2005
Riesling Grand Cru Hengst, Barmes-Buecher 2005

> Roast Guinea hen, Carpentras white asparagus, and morel mushrooms
Kreydenweiss, Marc - Pinot Gris Lerchenberg Les Alouettes 2006
Albert Boxler Grand Cru Brand Pinot Gris White Wine 2005

> Warm apple strudel, cheddar, and calvados cream
Trimbach Gewürztraminer Cuvée Des Seigneurs De Ribeaupierre 2000

The Boxler was my wine of the night -  with 45g of residual sugar the wine had a rich, sweet, nose that exuded complexity. Sweet on the tongue too - beautiful, concentrated and intensely complex, a wine of real character and depth.

If you prefer something drier, then the Kreydenweiss would be my recommendation - very dry, very mineral, with a really nice oily, petrol character. A good deal at a little over $20.


Reply by dmcker, Apr 2, 2009.

Was curious to see if the asparagus made it to the dessert course ;-).

An excellent- and interesting-looking meal!

Reply by oceank8, Apr 3, 2009.

I love asparagus and am glad to see someone not give up on the pairing! Great info, thanks.

Reply by Degrandcru, Apr 3, 2009.

Philip, hope for you that they served fresh white asparagus, no comparison to the green one. In the Alsace as well as in Germany you only get served white asparagus during spring time, green asparagus is considered inferior. By the way, it is the same plant, but white asparagus never sees the sunlight.

Reply by Philip James, Apr 3, 2009.

The first and third courses had white asparagus - much more tender, and to be honest, something i dont see in NYC all that much.

Reply by Degrandcru, Apr 3, 2009.

Yes, white asparagus has a less intense and less bitter taste. It is best when its fresh. Harvest (in Alsace and Germany) is between end of April to end of June. Thats an awesome season to be in the area and to enjoy the fresh asparagus with the matching wines.

Reply by John E Morris, Apr 7, 2009.

White asparagus is harder to find here, but Fairway and Whole Foods have had it recently. Most of it here comes from Mexico, at least at this time of year and, therefore, isn't as fresh as it could be, but it's still good. I don't find that white asparagus poses a big problem with wines.

I got hooked recently on white asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or speck. I brush it with olive oil and stick it in the oven for 15 minutes. It's a great finger food starter.

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